I have a plan B.
Should my career in journalism come to an end, I’m setting up an arachnid removal business.
I would currently be raking it in, as the official spider season runs from now until the beginning of October. The beasties have come to maturity and it’s mating time. They also start making their way into homes, where it’s warmer. These freeloaders know nothing of the cost-of-living crisis.
This year, there seems to be a particularly bumper crop. There have been some real galumphers appearing in my flat. You can hear their feet tippety-tapping across the floorboards, as if they have eight little jazz shoes on, and the webs outside my windows are as lush as spun sugar.
The bluebottles practically swoon into these predator’s glittery traps.
Some of the female house spiders that you’re spotting now may be the same ones that watched you play Scrabble during lockdown, since they live for about three years and tend to stay in the same location, while males are itinerant.
Much of the human population seems to be terrified of them, as spiders are the most common phobia, with fear of heights coming in at number two.
I’m usually the person who is recruited by friends, my husband, strangers and colleagues to deal with these insects. I never flush, stamp or swat. They are my pals. However, at this time of year, I get a bit bored of removing them for free.
My elevator pitch for the proposed business goes like this.
Someone spots a spider in the bath. They totally freak out, then they remember my leaflet, which they guddle out of the recycling, and phone or Whatsapp me, on 0800 Spiderbusters4U. There may also be a Better Call Saul style TV advert.
You could try emailing me through the website, though I’ll be in the same category as most other tradespeople, and will take all your details but never reply.
When I get the call, I’ll rush over in my converted hearse and scoop up Incy Wincy with my bare hands, since Spiderbusters Organics is a completely plastic and pesticide free company. We don’t even need to use the glass and paper trick.
I’ll drop Hot Legs off somewhere before billing you for an obscene amount. The price cap will be energy-company-style arbitrary, with a variable charge that’s in direct correlation to the amount of terror felt by my client. I’m thinking £20 per leg, and another £5 for each eye.
Please read the small print on my advertising paraphernalia. You’ll see that I only do house, money, daddy long leg or Jenny. Also, I’ll consider the minuscule red harvest spiders, though they’re classed as mites and I’ll need my reading glasses to find them.
In other words, the benign and identifiable ones, including pet tarantula escapees, are fine. There are around 650 native species in the UK, 12 of which can bite. I’ll stick with the ones I know, and let someone else deal with the other 645.
Anything medieval-looking that’s been found on a bunch of bananas, has a skull on its abdomen or eats its husband, is a hard nope.
I will think of another plan B if I ever move to Australia.
You can tell I have thought seriously about this potential career. There may even be a product line and other merchandise, though I’m not sure what to put on a T-shirt. I don’t need to do market research.
When I used to work from the office, I was occasionally recruited by a colleague who was extremely phobic.
One time, she spotted a house-spider in the toilets. Let’s call it Tiny Gladys. I picked her up and took her outside. That wasn’t good enough. To reassure my workmate, I had to take the insect Very Far Away from The Scotsman building, presumably in case Gladys found her way back through the revolving doors. I think I ended up dropping her off among the wildflowers at the Scottish Parliament. My colleague would have preferred it if I’d trekked to the top of Arthur’s Seat, though it would have been easy for the spider to zip line back from there.
My nine and 11-year-old nieces, though never instinctively scared when they were really small, have recently learnt to be frightened of spiders. That’s especially annoying, as it’s tricky to catch one when they’re cowering in a mountain of soft toys, squishies and plushies, or have sprung from the flyleaf of a Jacqueline Wilson book.
I’m glad to never have hit that etymologically fearful stage. As a child, the garden was always a source of free pets for me, though I learnt the hard way that jarred woodlice can’t survive on lettuce alone.
Still, it makes me feel like a hero, to not be feart of spiders.
Of course, when I encounter an unexpectedly large example, I do sometimes feel that little shiver in my amygdala, as you do when anything scuttles past in your peripheral vision, but I tamper it down. Think of their antennae as deeley-boppers - they’re on their way to an Eighties disco! - and all is well. It’s also soothing to remember that, in Scots Gaelic, the word for spider is damhan allaidh, which translates as ‘fierce little stag’. That makes them seem even cuter. Doesn’t it?
If you don’t agree, call 0800 Spiderbusters4U.
We’ll be there in a jiffy. Terms and conditions apply.